Development: TT @ 16 Months

Our littlest has start to assert himself and make his presence known. Well, here is his development so far.

Mastered Skills

  • Turn the pages of a book
    Yes. He handles board books well but struggles more with paperback or hardcover books.
  • Has temper tantrums when frustrated
    Absolutely. He has learned to scream when he doesn’t get things his way. And cries (badly) when we insist on removing him away from a place due to danger. I see terrible two coming.

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    The littlest throwing his tantrum when we took something away from him due to safety purposes.
  • Becomes attached to a soft toy or other object
    Not really. He has a few “favourite” soft toys (Mickey and Minnie), but he is not attached to them. He just prefer them when he sees soft toys around.

Emerging Skills

  • Discovers the joy of climbing
    I think he discovered that months ago. He is always climbing up and down the dining chairs, sofa, bed and his siblings study table. When he goes to the playground, he also had fun climbing up and down the steps and slide.

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    The littlest climbing up the slide because he couldn’t find another way up.
  • Stacks three blocks
    Yup, though he prefers to destroy than build.
  • Uses spoon or fork
    He prefers to self feed so yes we have exposed him to fork and spoon.
  • Learns the correct way to use common objects
    Yes. He takes the phone and pretends to call. He also aims the controllers at the TV, fan or air-conditioner. But sometimes its the wrong one, and he will be puzzled why there is no “reaction”. LOL.

Advanced Skills

  • Takes off one piece of clothing by himself
    He can somewhat pull down his pants, or remove the tape on his diaper. But has not succeed in removing them completely.
  • Gets finicky about food
    Yes. For food that he likes to eat, he will eat more and faster. For food that he doesn’t like, he refuses to open his mouth.
  • Switches from two naps to one
    The helper is taking care of him most of the time. She still tried to make him have two naps a day. But there will be days it will be so difficult to get him to nap in the afternoon. I did suggest to the helper to consider to switch to one nap. But I leave it to her since she is the one handling him.

Dear TT,

You seems to have grown leaps and bounds this month. You are talking so much more and your vocabulary has definitely increased. When you see us eating “junk food”, you will tell us “bee-cuit” (biscuit). When something fell onto the floor, you will say “drop”. When you want to watch TV you will say “maisy” (your favourite cartoon currently). When you take out a book to “read”, it will be “baa baa sheep”.

You love going to the playground. And is, mostly, able to get up by yourself either through the steps or the slide itself. You still have a cautious self. You will peep below before you take a step out, making sure that you will not fall. But when you see Mummy or someone there, you will do your leap of faith. Often, scaring Mummy and Auntie.

Making you sleep nowadays is difficult. You no longer allow us to carry you and pat you to sleep. Most time, Mummy will just let you roam near the mattress until she sees you calming down. Then she will carry and pat you to sleep. However, that is usually after you cried and threw a tantrum for being “confined”.

Mummy is happy that she seems to have more time with you now. After GorGor and JieJie finishes their work, you will come to their table to “study”. You will start taking out their pencils and highlighter and pretend to “write”. Mummy is happy just by your side watching you. I hope by your turn to “study”, you will still be willing to be sitting down at the table. LOL.

It certainly was an exciting month. Mummy is sure there will be more to come. Meanwhile, stay healthy and happy like you are now. Daddy and Mummy love you always.

Love,
Mummy

Tips: Easing your toddler into childcare

Loi went for trial at her childcare in the last week of November and was formally enrolled since December 2013. This implies that she has been in school for over a month and she seems to be coping well thus far.

Her first day of trial in school. She did painting and spend most of her time outdoor.
Her first day of trial in school. She did painting and spend most of her time outdoor.

Having send two kids to childcare at a young age of 20 and 25 months. Here are some of my own views and tips with regards to easing them into school.

1. Go for the trial
If the school offers trial classes always go for it, even if you are familiar with the school cause your elder kid is there. Because you may be familiar with everyone but the kid doesn’t. If the school allows the parents to stay with the kid during the trial, like Loi’s school does, it’s the best opportunity. You not only get to know the teachers, more importantly you help the kid get use to her teachers. She will learn that teachers are safe people to be with as they sees Daddy/Mummy there and encouraging her to join in with the teachers activities.

If parents aren’t allowed during trial, it may get a little tricky. You can only base on the “state” of your child when you pick her up. For example, is she still in tears? Or her eyes is so swollen from all the crying? Does she allow the teacher to carry her or calm her? All these are tell tale signs of her adaptability in class.

(We are fortunate that the CC the kids attend does not believe in the “cold turkey” method. I know a lot of kids survived that but I think it’s a little brutal to the young toddlers. Just imagine as adults we get uncomfortable in a group setting of all strangers, so how can we expect our young toddler to do it?)

2. Don’t introduce too much change at a time
It may sound like a tempting idea to start a fresh new year. So the kid got enrolled into school, enrichment classes or even a drastic change in normal routine. This will put the kid under unnecessary stress and increase her sense of insecurities. For example, you send away your domestic helper because the kid is now in school. The kid will get upset when she reaches home and couldn’t find the familiar face. She will resist going to school more and become unsettled. Do introduce changed gradually.

3. Talk to the Teachers
Where else can you get 1st hand information about the kid? Besides seeing you interact with the teachers might put your kid at ease as it may appear to her the the teacher is your “friend” and she is harmless.

4. Get the older sibling to help
If the older sibling is in the same school, it definitely will help the kid feel more secure. You can get the elder sibling to help bring the kid to her classroom. And kids at this stage are good at modeling after their siblings. Seeing their GorGor or JieJie enjoying his or her class may inspire her to do the same.

5. Ask about her day in school
I find this helps. It shows her you are still concern about her. But asking does not stop there, after learning about what she do, try to do the same thing at home. Especially those that she enjoys. For Loi, she loves music and movement, so I sang and dance with her the songs that the teachers were teaching. This not only refreshes her learning, it help her feel that school is a fun place. She may also become eager to learn more so that she can come back and do it with you.

What is the activity that your kid enjoyed doing in school?
What is the activity that your kid enjoyed doing in school?

Actually, at the end of the day, a lot of things will come naturally when you imagine yourself in the position of the kid. And blow the thought up by another 200% you will probably understand the impact it has on them.

Loi 2nd Birthday

For Zai 2nd birthday, we had a staycation at Sentosa. We wanted to do the same for Loi when she had her 2nd birthday last month. Alas, we were too busy that we didn’t manage to book a hotel in time. So we have to settled for something else. After much thought, we decide to just book the BBQ pit below our block and hold a BBQ party for her.

Deco
The girl favorite at that time was Disney “Sofia the First” princess. However, Sofia is still not widely popular in Singapore yet. Hence I had to order the decos online.

Sofia deco for the girl 2nd birthday.
Sofia deco for the girl 2nd birthday.

I got the two Sofia balloons from Amazon. Got my sis to help bring it to Bugis to pump helium and bought a bunch of pink and purple balloons to go with it (Total cost for the helium gas and balloons from Bugis is SGD19). Quite happy with the quality of the Sofia balloons. The balloon continued to float in the air for about a week!

The Sofia figurine was for the girl to put on her cakes since we can’t find Sofia theme cake. Besides, after the party, the kids can still play with it as a toy. Better than sugar base deco. Got this from Disney store itself.

Food
Most of the BBQ were bought off the shelves.

BBQ food for Loi 2nd Birthday Party!
BBQ food for Loi 2nd Birthday Party!

For the kids, we air-fried mid-wings from CP and sotong balls, which goes well with the fried bee hoon my MIL prepared. My sis boyfriend also kindly helped us prepare the angry bird and bear fish cake which was pre-boiled and heated at the pit. He also help make children friendly otah by wrapping fish paste and salmon in banana leaves.

The kids enjoying their food at the party.
The kids enjoying their food at the party.

For adults, they had satay and again “upgraded” otah from my sis boyfriend. The otah was a hit and lots of guest were asking where we got it from.

For dessert, the kids get old school potong ice-cream while the adults have coconut jelly sponsored by Chubby’s aunt!

Loi enjoying her old school potong ice-cream as birthday treat!
Loi enjoying her old school potong ice-cream as birthday treat!

Fun Factors
For the kids it was fortunate that the BBQ pit was just beside the playground. Hence, they played before the food arrive and continued playing after food. This explain their sweaty look in the pic above.

Loi having fun at the playground during the party.
Loi having fun at the playground during the party.

Cake(s)
We got our two “cakes” for the party as we were afraid that one is not enough for the crowd.

The "cakes" for the party.
The “cakes” for the party.

We ordered an apple crumble and a carrot cake, both from BatterWorks. Most find the apple crumble a little too sweet but the carrot cake is nice.

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The girl 2nd Birthday party was a simple affair and rather budgeted. However, we were happy that the kids had fun and Loi enjoyed herself too. She has since been found near tables with birthday cakes trying to take over the cake cutting. Think she enjoys the attention and the fun. We will see how we will celebrate her birthday next year. Base on GorGor, it would be an even simpler affair though.

KL 2013: How to survive road trips with 2 Toddlers

Over the Hari Raya and National Day long weekend, we went on a road trip again. We went to KL with my parents and siblings this time.

I have always been very concerned about road trips. The thought of being trapped in the car with the 2 kids for few hours, is dreadful. And the safety and security while on the road is also top on my concern list. However, as I get more “seasoned” in road trips, I start to appreciate the time we have in the car bonding as a family. And sometimes, things aren’t as bad as we thought it will be. Kids can behave better than we imagine.

Having said that, there are still careful planning that needs to be done. So here are some tips that I have for planning and surviving road trips. Especially with 2 Toddlers (Zai is 3.5 y.o. and Loi is 22 months).

Loi in a Luggage
Loi in a Luggage

Tip 1: GPS is a must.
We don’t own a GPS, so we relied on Smart Phone apps to work as our GPS. The two apps on Andriod we have tried that allow offline navigation are Route 66 Maps + Navigation and OsmAnd Maps & Navigation.

We tried Route 66 because it was the default application that was provided by Chubby’s previous HTC. So we used that the previous time we went to Cameron Highlands. Well, its quite accurate and useful, just that it is not free. You can choose to pay and use for a month or pay for a one-off lifetime subscription.

For this KL trip, we used the OsmAnd Maps & Navigation. This is a free application for the first 20 maps that you download. The UI of the application is not fantastic, in fact it is a little hard to navigate between the menu, but its free and UI can be learned. So we are quite happy with it. In fact, we are surprise that the app can recalculate the route pretty fast. When we were making our way back, we didn’t manage to do a U-turn in time from our hotel, but the app quickly calculates an alternative route for us and it is so seamless. My brother’s Garmin was still struggling to recalculate even when we are almost at the highway. So for a free product, I think it pretty much serves its function!

Tip 2: Invest in Walkie Talkie
Walkie Talkie are really useful on such road trips for communication between the two vehicles. We can easily “call” for toilet break or chat with each other to kill time.

Just take note that Walkie Talkie is a controlled product in Singapore. So buy only IDA approved Walkie Talkie. Else, you may get into some issues at the Singapore custom.

Tip 3: Travel in early morning.
And I mean real early. For this trip, we met up with my parents and siblings at about 4:30am in Jurong. You would think that is real early right? But no, we were still stuck in the Tuas 2nd Link for like an hour before we manage to clear the custom. Well, the reason for travelling early is not only to avoid the jam (especially on long weekends) but also to reduce the waking hours of the kids in the car.

What we did was we carried the kids (in their pajamas) from our home all the way to the car and let them continue their sleep inside. For the boy, we were rather successful, he stirred, woke up but returned back to sleep. For the girl, she is a light sleeper, so she took a while before she falls back to sleep again. But at least I only need to handle her, instead of both of them at the same time. With that, the kids didn’t wake up until around 8am. This means we are already half-way through the ride including the jam at the checkpoints. So half the battle over without having to worry much. The only poor people are the drivers, who can’t really rest in the car.

Tip 4: Pack milk, fruits and snacks.
Kids get hungry when they are bored. So its important to pack their milk powder, especially when you travel early (see Tip 3). Fruits is an obvious healthier choice and keeps the kids hydrated when they are in the car. The only challenge is in keeping it “fresh” before the kids eats it a few hours after its prepared (dragon fruit is a good choice, just make sure they don’t drop it). Snacks is good for making the kids behave when they start to get bored. They can spend sometime eating before they are bored again. Just make sure the snacks are bite size and doesn’t leave crumbs behind. Else, the cockroaches will find their way to the car!

Tip 5: Have an extra pair of hands to help (if possible).
For the past few trips, we brought along our helper. It definitely make my ride much easier. My helper usually takes the co-driver seat, while I am seated behind with the two kids. Her main job is to provide support “fire”. She helps prepare the milk in front (which is not an easy task on road), while I struggle with the kids behind. Without the kids disturbance, she can help organize the things better too. So when I need wet tissues or snacks, I don’t have to rummage the bag while trying to deal with the kids. I just ask for help and she will be able to find it quite quickly. And during the stops, she can help with the diaper changing too.

Of course, this person doesn’t have to be a helper, it could be anyone who is familiar with the care giving of the kids.

Tip 6: Running through the itinerary.
I feel that it helps to run through the itinerary with the kids. It helps them understand what is all the travelling for and get them excited about what is going to come. With an objective in mind, the kids will (hopefully) be more well behaved.

Tip 7: Prepare Activity Bag.
I got the idea from this website. The idea is to pack some “activities” into a bag for the kids. I brought along a small sketch book and some pens for Loi since she loves to doodle. I also pack some stickers for them in the previous trip. The boy enjoys pasting, while the girl enjoys peeling the stickers off.

If you are daring enough, you can consider putting some “chops” inside. Stamping on the go, is not that difficult, its just the mess that it might create with young kids. So washable inks are a must and standby lots of wet tissues!

I also placed some of their favourite books in the bag. Reading on the go is not ideal, but we don’t have to stare at the book for a long time. We can spin off to talk about something else, especially when Zai is at a “talkative” stage now.

As for the bag itself, I brought mine from Daiso. Under the stationary section, you can find many A4 size bags (Oh, how I love these bags, I think I shall share a post on these bags when I have the time). Of course, it is not necessary that the bags are of this size and shape, you can use anything. But the bags are really handy in that it keep things in place and is easy to find the items if you have different bags for kinds of items.

Tip 8: Smart Gadgets is a fall back plan.
Who am I kidding, Smart Gadgets are a must! Actually that is also not true. One of my girlfriend manage to wean her kids off such e-pacifier. For me, I’m still a long way. But I do try to reduce their time on it, which is why I prepare the activities bag mention in Tip 7. So when all else fails, the smart devices (yes, one is not enough as there are two kids you see) will keep them entertained for quite a while. Just practice control when required.

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So, this are the 8 tips that I have. Do you have any tips to share with me for road trips like this?

Review: Julia Donaldson and Nick Sharratt

I first know of Julia Donaldson when I read about the shows that are showing for this year Kidsfest. Following that, I learned about him through a blog series that one of the SMB Mom did. Naturally I was curious and I went to the library to look for his books or DVD. I realise to my dismay that “The Gruffalo”, which is the show featured in Kidsfest as well as the famous work of Julia Donaldson, is not available for borrowing at the library. So I decide to pick up some other of his books.

The first book I picked from him is “One Mole Digging a Hole”. I chose it because it has rhymes and teaches counting from 1 to 10. This is what I have been trying to teach Zai (2.5 y.o at that time) during that period. Besides, the drawings are brightly colored and features different types of animals, this I’m sure will be attractive to the son. True enough the love the book to bits. And since then we fell in love with Julia Donaldson and Nick Sharratt.

The next book we borrowed is “Goat goes to playgroup”. He describes the day of Goat as he spends his time in school. Again, the boy likes it even till date, he will request for me to borrow it whenever we sees it in the library. The funny things that the Goat do in school makes the boy laugh and maybe identify with.

Julia Donaldson and Nick Sharratt
Julia Donaldson and Nick Sharratt

“Toddle Waddle” is a good book to let the kids repeat after you. This is because as the book progresses, the phrases are repeated. And the son is always intrigue by words to do with sound like “boing boing”.

I had a hard time finding the other two books, “Chocolate Goose for Greedy Goose” and “Hippo Has a Hat”. They weren’t available at the library. But fortunately, I found them at the Popular Expo sale. They cost only SGD4.95 each and there is a 25% discount. Each book is less then SGD4. Good buy I should say.

I realise that there is 2 other books that is by the two of them. I need to start hunting around. Meanwhile, give these books a try for your young toddler!

Little Ones Reading Jan 2013

This month, for the girl, I concentrated on “sounds” since I find that she loves “Mr Brown can Moo” by Dr Seuss. So when I stumbled onto this two books, I just have to borrow for her.

Can You Moo Too
Can You Moo Too
Can you choo choo too
Can you choo choo too

For the two books, there are one sentence in each page, stating the sound that the animal or transport vehicle make. She likes the animal book better. Some how, the sounds trickle her and her favourite is the gorilla. I added more to the book by describing the background color of the book, as there is a different color in each page.

I touch
I touch

I remembered Zai loves Helen Oxenbury books. Unfortunately I couldn’t borrow any of her story books that day, and only came across this “word” book. It’s just a word on each page stating the type of object the baby can touch. It didn’t arouse much interest in the girl.

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Last month, I read to Zai “One mole digging a hole” and he loves it. So this month, more books from Julia Donaldson! I manage to borrow “One mole digging a hole” again, this month. And before the end of the month, the boy could memorize the whole book! Initially, I thought he remember base on the picture but there was once we were in the car, and I can’t remember what triggered him, he started reciting the whole book out to me. Well, through the book he has learned more gardening related terms which I’m really happy about.

This month favourite for Zai has to be this.

Goat goes to playgroup
Goat goes to playgroup

I think the boy can identify with the story which is why he likes the book so much. He keeps on “bugging” me to read and re-read the book to him. The book talks about how Goat went through his day at school. And Goat is the one who “monkeys” around in school not exactly following instruction. Well, I think the Goat reminds the boy about him. Cause I have heard his teachers mentioning that he walks around in the class when everyone else was working on something. I hope this book didn’t encourage his behavior.
Oh, and by the end of the month, he could recite the book when he sees the pages. As in, he remembers exactly the words in the sentence and not just what is happening. I think my boy has got a rather good memory.

Where's my mom
Where’s my mom

We manage to read this book a few times this month. The book talks about how baby monkey lost his mummy and the butterfly came to help him find. Its a really good book as it describes the behaviors of different kinds of animals. However, it proves to be a little too wordy for the boy. So in the end I summarizes it and read the important parts to him.

Rabbit's Nap
Rabbit’s Nap

The 2nd favourite book of the month. But he only started reading like 1 week before the book was due. As a result, he didn’t get to read it much. I tried looking for the book again in the library, but didn’t manage to get it. Anyway, the book is about the Rabbit trying to take a nap. But he was always disturbed by somebody. Lifting the flap will show the friend who is disturbing him.

Little Ones Reading Oct 2012

Time of the month to mark down their reading again!

This month, Loi has more exposure to the books. And it seems the books that I borrowed from the library, she manage to “read” it up. While Zai, interestingly, was only interested in the Chinese books that I borrowed!

Tickly Tiger Rattle Book

Tickly Tiger is looking around. What is he looking for? A rattle? Nope its a cuddly hug from mummy! Loi loves the little rattle at the top and will actually “beat” it and I love to give her a hug like the Tiger mummy at the end.

Baby’s Very First Touchy-Feely Getting Dressed Book

Loi is still very “hands-on”. She loves to poke and scratch the books. So I pretty much still borrow lots of touch and feel book for her. Yes, some may seem very dirty but I make sure I wash her hands after that. This book introduces different kinds of clothing and also colors.

Muffin Bedtime Cuddles

Its bedtime and Muffin the bear is looking for a cuddle. This book tries to cover all aspects. It teaches “hard”, which means cannot be cuddled. It also introduces the concept that if someone is sleeping we should not disturb. And of course there is still someone we can cuddle. Kinda of messy in a sense that there is no clear concept of what is trying to introduce. And story line is just so-so. Maybe that’s why the boy is not interested in it.

Little Rabbit

Follow Little Rabbit in exploring. I like how the story reverse the things Little Rabbit sees when he walks back home. Can train the kid to recall as well as introducing the concept of reversing. But oh well, the boy couldn’t quite get it yet.

Clifford First Christmas

How was Clifford like when he first join the family for Christmas. Borrowed this book to introduce the boy to “Christmas” since its around the corner. He likes how Clifford plays with the new presents. He even told me that Clifford is not to go into the doll house or sit on the toy cars. Looks like I have a class monitor in the making.

Little Red Riding Hood

Need I say more about the classic. However, this story differs a little from what the boy learns from a smart phone app. So he get confuses a little, but I will tend to stick to the story he already know.

Shu Cai Hao Hao Chi
Wo Dong Li Mao
Wo Yao You Yong
Xi Shou

I have no idea is it because of his love for animals or he can identify with them. The boy simply love all the books in this series. He will follow the stories and name the animals that he sees. He can also recall the important concepts that the book is trying to teach. Like there should be foams when washing the hands or we should follow adults when in the swimming pool. I also love the series as the stories are easy to understand, the pictures are colorful and they teaches values.